Column by the leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell.

I’m writing this on 20th July, the 13th anniversary of the terrible floods that hit Gloucestershire in 2007, and I remember it as if it were yesterday, when it felt as if the rains would never stop.

Just as in the current emergency, everyone in the community pulled together, but some community groups didn’t stop there. Local flood groups came together, exploring ways of preventing floods by more natural means. The result was the Stroud’s Rural Sustainable Drainage Project (Rural SuDs).

Community groups, and local landowners have been at the heart of this project from the start, which has worked to reduce the risk of flooding throughout the 250 square kilometre catchment of the River Frome and its tributaries. Measures include creating `leaky dams’ which involves positioning fallen trees across water courses to slow the flow of flood water, encouraging more water to soak into the ground, resulting in less travelling downstream and so reducing the flood risk.

I’m proud to say Stroud District Council’s support all the way through has played its part in this success, with support also from the County Council and Environment Agency, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the University of Gloucestershire.

It is a timely reminder of how we need to build resilience – into nature as well as our communities. Although our minds are taken up with the coronavirus emergency now, the climate emergency is more urgent that ever. The council made another step towards its Carbon Neutral 2030 plan last week by approving investment into water source heat pumps at Ebley and Brimscombe Port Mills, getting rid of the gas boilers to be heated by the water rushing past the mill and making hundreds of tons of carbon savings.